Object causes thousands of dollars in damage to cars along I-480

CLEVELAND - An unidentified object on Interstate 480 east at the 71 split caused extensive car damage for multiple drivers Wednesday morning.

Cleveland police said many commuters reported a large piece of metal on the highway, but that hasn't been confirmed. The Ohio Department of Transportation, or ODOT, said their crews removed a football-sized rock and patched a pothole, but didn't recover any metal objects.

"Whatever I hit, I hit really hard," said Jeff Wrick, whose 2008 Cadillac Escalade's rear driver-side tire and rim were damaged. The North Olmsted resident added that he first thought another driver rammed into his SUV. "It was just a big thud," he said.

Wrick wasn't the only victim. Lynda Devecka said she was driving along the same stretch of highway earlier Wednesday when she heard a "very loud" noise. Devecka pulled off to the side of I-480 and noticed her 2006 Honda Civic had two busted tires and bent rims. Her Civic was towed to the National Tire and Battery store on West 130th Street in Brook Park.

"It looked like it could be something large and metal," said NTB store manager John Pappas. Pappas said the repairs needed on the Devecka's civic will total at least $1,000.

Wrick will be footing a slightly larger bill - at least $1,200.

"I'm very upset and very disappointed," he said. He's also demanding answers. "Is there anyone responsible for this?" He even returned to the scene later to search for any clues, but found nothing.

"You think by now, someone would have reported something," Wrick said.

ODOT asks affected drivers to file a report online with the Ohio Court of Claims at www.cco.state.oh.us .

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